What I expected from the Executive MBA vs the reality

14 October 2022

Expecting the Executive MBA to be a solo journey, participant Christine Hart explores how she found the support network of both the cohort and programme team to be an integral part of the experience.  

Everyone’s life carries a different weight and cost to manage. I happen to be a single parent of an 11-year-old boy and work full-time managing global network operations for a large company. I don’t have a traditional education history and did not walk into the programme with a university education background. Like many, it seems overwhelming to contemplate trying to juggle our work lives, family needs, and overall sanity with the expected workload to gain an Executive MBA. I knew when I decided to pursue an MBA that it would cost me something that I could never get back with my son… time. I needed to believe that the effort and loss of time with my son to complete the MBA programme would be worth it. The expectations of the demand on my time are realistic. I was right.

A supportive cohort

Some of my other expectations were that this was only my journey and I need to solve all my issues and concerns by myself. I expected to be in a mass of people staring forward with no expectation of how their lives should affect mine much less how they would make this journey any easier or better. I was wrong.

The reality is that you will be immersed in a group of people, your cohort, that actively participate in supporting you on your journey and most especially your success. You will meet people from varying levels of education and experience, from a broad spectrum of sectors and life experiences. Not only will you learn from each of them, but they are the ones that will become your sounding board and will take your late-night call to help you learn something that just didn’t ‘stick’. Your cohort will be your study partners and support system, they will share their struggles and successes to remind you that if they can do it, so can you. No one is competing here; everyone is managing the weight of their life. This group of people was never in my expectations and I’m thankful they are now part of my reality.

The WBS programme team

The Warwick Business School (WBS) team from the programme managers and coaching team to the instructors… well, to be honest, I didn’t really have any expectations for them. I just assumed they kept the lights on, and I was pretty much on my own. Again, I was wrong. The WBS team, all of them, are a huge help in not only supporting you but helping you find direction in how to take your journey beyond just a degree. The coaches are a source of resources and practical advice around building you, the person on this journey. They look beyond the student and bring out the risk-taker that wants to leverage this degree to take them to the next level. Then they give you the tools or steps needed to get you there. The programme team quietly works in the background to keep things running smoothly, but also to ensure that you have options and support when life forces you to juggle a bit more than usual. They are available for class rescheduling and questions when you’re at loss as to how to make it all work. They have the answers and can guide you through the actions to take.

Work, study and family commitments

The reality is that, yes, this is time consuming. The programme does not always align to school breaks and holidays, my weekends are spent writing reports, and much of my spare time is spent reading. Often the subjects are not ones that I have familiarity with, so they are foreign to me, and the expectations are high to consume the content very quickly. I have written papers for the first time in my life, but I have consistently scored better than I expected. My son has not starved to death and has learned about things like ‘ROI’ and ‘Asset Management’, and is now saving to buy a gumball machine for the local barbershop so he can become a ‘businessman’.

I expected to have some hard months where I felt the studying was never ending and I was right. But I never expected to have so many people on this journey with me to ensure my success and offset what I felt would be an overwhelming time commitment. I know that when I’m done, I’ll have my brand-new shiny MBA, but I’ll also have had career coaching and personal development, an understanding of what being a Warwick Alumni will offer me, and many, many connections from the numerous people that I’ve met along the way. They all motivate and support my journey. In all of my realities, I never expected to gain all of that, too.  

Now I’m six months into the programme and I still believe that this is worth it.

Find out more about the Executive MBA programme.

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